Joint networks key to QDR's plans

DOD to compete systems in search of best capabilities

If you don't think that a network took down Zarqawi, you're vastly mistaken. A highly robust, collaborative network is absolutely essential.'

' Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr.

R.W. Ward

Senior leaders across the Defense Department who helped write the Quadrennial Defense Review now are dusting off the guidance to put the ideas into practice.

Senior Defense and service officials will soon be running experiments, examining how systems are governed, managed and implemented under the four categories that make up the Joint Capabilities Portfolio: joint command and control, joint network-centric operations, joint logistics and battlespace awareness.

Joint networked operations are crucial in the war on terror, and any requirements 'not based in a joint context will probably run into heavy weather,' during fiscal 2008 budget planning, warned Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a recent conference.

The QDR is a report DOD produces every four years that lays out a 20-year projection for transformation.

The advantages of a networked force are even visible in the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, added Giambastiani, who gave the keynote address at the recent TechNet International 2006 conference sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

'If you don't think that a network took down Zarqawi, you're vastly mistaken,' Giambastiani said. 'A highly robust, collaborative network is absolutely essential' to conduct modern warfare.

Under the Joint Capabilities Portfolio, military leaders will review each of the service systems and the capabilities they bring. The leaders will 'compete them against one another, meld them and kill off some that aren't as useful as others,' Giambastiani said.

'This is more than just moving deck chairs around,' he added. 'There [are] going to be some growing pains with this.'

Within each of the categories of the Joint Capabilities Portfolio, military leaders will be looking for systems to develop that share information across military organizations.

Ultimately, the process will help the department determine which joint systems to back for the president's budget in 2008 based on which 'work with these joint capabilities,' Giambastiani said.

'We will bring portfolios up against the DOD and have programs compete for funding,' he added. 'If we have to cancel or modify programs, we will.'

At a news briefing earlier this year, Kenneth Krieg, DOD's undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said he will work with Giambiastiani to arrive at a joint portfolio of capabilities across DOD.

'We've worked very closely together, both at the programmatic level in trying to drive some choices and at the strategy level,' Krieg said. 'We'll be very engaged in thinking through those portfolios together because, obviously, capability management is the intersection between what you want to be able to do'concepts of operations and the effects you want to create'with various things you could invest in.'

Krieg added that 'managing that intersection is clearly going to require having requirements guys, the acquisition guys and the resources guys together making those choices.'

Giambiastiani said his office also is working to improve the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. JROC reviews programs at the request of senior Defense leaders for interoperability and to validate key performance parameters.

Giambiastiani said the JROC process in the past was too bureaucratic and rigid, and embodied a one-size-fits-all approach. The improvements will leave JROC 'more responsive, with more agility, more transparency so we can deal with issues on a more even keel.'

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